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Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath (October 27, 1932 – February 11, 1963) was an American poet, novelist and short story writer. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, she studied at Smith College and Newnham College, Cambridge before receiving acclaim as a professional poet and writer. She married fellow poet Ted Hughes in 1956 and they lived together first in the United States and then England, having two children together: Frieda and Nicholas. Following a long struggle with depression and a marital separation, Plath committed suicide in 1963. Controversy continues to surround the events of her life and death, as well as her writing and legacy. Plath is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry and is best known for her two published collections: The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel. In 1982, she became the first poet to win a Pulitzer Prize posthumously, for The Collected Poems. She also wrote The Bell Jar, a semi-autobiographical novel published shortly before her death. Early life Plath was born during the Great Depression on October 27, 1932 at the Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood. Her mother, Aurelia Schober Plath (1906-1994), was a first-generation American of Austrian descent, and her father Otto Plath (1885-1940), was from Grabow, Germany. Plath's father was an entomologist and was professor of biology and German at Boston University; he also authored a book about bumblebees. Plath's mother was approximately twenty-one years younger than her husband. They met while she was earning her master's degree in teaching and took one of his courses. Otto had become alienated from his family after choosing not to become a Lutheran minister, as his grandparents had intended him to be. In April 1935, Plath's brother Warren was born and in 1936 the family moved to Winthrop, Massachusetts. Plath's mother, Aurelia, had grown up in Winthrop, and her maternal grandparents, the Schobers, had lived in a section of the town called Point Shirley, a location mentioned in Plath's poetry. While living in Winthrop, eight-year-old Plath published her first poem in the Boston Herald's children's section. In addition to writing, she showed early promise as an artist, winning an award for her paintings from The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards in 1947. Otto Plath died on November 5, 1940, a week and a half after Plath's eighth birthday, of complications following the amputation of a foot due to untreated diabetes. He had become ill shortly after a close friend died of lung cancer. Comparing the similarities between his friend's symptoms and his own, Otto became convinced that he, too, had lung cancer and did not seek treatment until his diabetes had progressed too far. Raised as a Unitarian Christian, Plath experienced a loss of faith after her father's death, and remained ambivalent about religion throughout her life. He was buried in Winthrop Cemetery; visiting her father's grave prompted Plath to write the poem Electra on Azalea Path. After his death, Aurelia Plath moved her children and her parents to 26 Elmwood Road, Wellesley, Massachusetts in 1942. In one of her last prose pieces, Plath commented that her first nine years "sealed themselves off like a ship in a bottle—beautiful inaccessible, obsolete, a fine, white flying myth". Plath attended Bradford Senior High School in Wellesley, graduating in 1950. College years In 1950, Plath attended Smith College and excelled academically. She wrote to her mother, "The world is splitting open at my feet like a ripe, juicy watermelon." She edited The Smith Review and during the summer after her third year of college Plath was awarded a coveted position as guest editor at Mademoiselle magazine, during which she spent a month in New York City. The experience was not what she had hoped it would be, and it began a downward spiral. Many of the events that took place during that summer were later used as inspiration for her novel The Bell Jar. During this time she was refused admission to the Harvard writing seminar. Following electroconvulsive therapy for depression, Plath made her first medically documented suicide attempt in late August 1953 by crawling under her house and taking her mother's sleeping pills. She survived this first suicide attempt after lying unfound in a crawl space for three days, later writing that she "blissfully succumbed to the whirling blackness that I honestly believed was eternal oblivion." She spent the next six months in psychiatric care, receiving more electric and insulin shock treatment under the care of Dr. Ruth Beuscher. Her stay at McLean Hospital and her Smith scholarship were paid for by Olive Higgins Prouty, who had successfully recovered from a mental breakdown herself. Plath seemed to make a good recovery and returned to college. In January 1955, she submitted her thesis The Magic Mirror: A Study of the Double in Two of Dostoyevsky's Novels and in June, graduated from Smith with highest honors. She obtained a Fulbright scholarship to Newnham College, Cambridge where she continued actively writing poetry and publishing her work in the student newspaper Varsity. At Newnham, she studied with Dorothea Krook, whom she held in high regard. She spent her first year winter and spring holidays travelling around the continent. Career and marriage n a 1961 BBC interview (now held by the British Library Sound Archive), Plath describes how she met Ted Hughes: I happened to be at Cambridge. I was sent there by the [US] government on a government grant. And I'd read some of Ted's poems in this magazine and I was very impressed and I wanted to meet him. I went to this little celebration and that's actually where we met... Then we saw a great deal of each other. Ted came back to Cambridge and suddenly we found ourselves getting married a few months later... We kept writing poems to each other. Then it just grew out of that, I guess, a feeling that we both were writing so much and having such a fine time doing it, we decided that this should keep on. Plath described Hughes as "a singer, story-teller, lion and world-wanderer" with "a voice like the thunder of God”. The couple were married on June 16, 1956 at St George the Martyr Holborn in the London Borough of Camden with Plath's mother in attendance, and spent their honeymoon in Benidorm. Plath returned to Newnham in October to begin her second year. During this time, they both became deeply interested in astrology and the supernatural, using Ouija boards. In early 1957, Plath and Hughes moved to the United States and from September 1957 Plath taught at Smith College, her alma mater. She found it difficult to both teach and have enough time and energy to write and the middle of 1958, the couple moved to Boston. Plath took a job as a receptionist in the psychiatric unit of Massachusetts General Hospital and in the evening took creative writing seminars given by poet Robert Lowell (also attended by the writers Anne Sexton and George Starbuck). Both Lowell and Sexton encouraged Plath to write from her experience and she did so. She openly discussed her depression with Lowell and her suicide attempts with Sexton who led her to write from a more female perspective. Plath began to conceive of herself as a more serious, focused poet and short-story writer. At this time Plath and Hughes first met the poet W. S. Merwin, who admired their work and was to remain a lifelong friend. Plath resumed psychoanalytic treatment in December, working with Ruth Beuscher. Plath and Hughes traveled across Canada and the US, staying at the Yaddo artist colony in New York State in the autumn of 1959. Plath says that it was here that she learned "to be true to my own weirdnesses", but she remained anxious about writing confessionally, from deeply personal and private material. The couple moved back to the United Kingdom in December 1959 and lived in London at 3 Chalcot Square, near the Primrose Hill area of Regent's Park, where an English Heritage plaque records Plath's residence. Their daughter Frieda was born on 1 April 1960 and in October, Plath published her first collection of poetry, The Colossus. In February 1961, Plath's second pregnancy ended in miscarriage; a number of her poems, including "Parliament Hill Fields", address this event. In August she finished her semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar and immediately after this, the family moved to Court Green in the small market town of North Tawton in Devon. Nicholas was born in January 1962. During the summer of 1962, Hughes began to keep bees, which would be the subject of many Plath poems. In 1961, the couple rented their flat at Chalcot Square to Assia and David Wevill. Hughes was immediately struck with the beautiful Assia, as she was with him. He would later write in "Dreamers" (Birthday Letters, 1998) "The dreamer in her Had fallen in love with me and she did not know it. That moment the dreamer in me Fell in love with her and I knew it,” In June, Plath had had a car accident which she described as one of many suicide attempts. In July 1962 Plath discovered Hughes had been having an affair with Wevill and in September the couple separated. Beginning in October 1962, Plath experienced a great burst of creativity and wrote most of the poems on which her reputation now rests, writing at least 26 of the poems of her posthumous collection Ariel during this time. In December 1962, she returned alone to London with their children, and rented, on a five year lease, a flat at 23 Fitzroy Road—only a few streets from the Chalcot Square flat. William Butler Yeats once lived in the house, which bears an English Heritage blue plaque for the Irish poet. Plath was pleased by this fact and considered it a good omen. The winter of 1962 was one of the coldest in 100 years; the pipes froze, the children—now two years old and nine months—were often sick, and the house had no telephone. Her depression returned but she completed the rest of her poetry collection which would be published after her death (1965 in the UK, 1966 in the US) . Her only novel, The Bell Jar, came out in January 1963, published under the pen name Victoria Lucas, and was met with critical indifference. Death Dr. John Horder, a close friend who lived near Plath, prescribed her antidepressants a few days before her death. Knowing she was at risk alone with two young children, he says he visited her daily and made strenuous efforts to have her admitted to a hospital and when that failed, he arranged for a live-in nurse. Some commentators have argued that because anti-depressants may take up to three weeks to take effect, her prescription from Horder would not necessarily have helped. Others say that Plath's American doctor had warned her never again to take the anti-depressant drug which she found worsened her depression but Horder had prescribed it under a proprietary name which she did not recognize. The nurse[Notes 1] was due to arrive at nine o'clock the morning of 11 February 1963 to help Plath with the care of her children. Upon arrival, she could not get into the flat, but eventually gained access with the help of a workman, Charles Langridge. They found Plath dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in the kitchen, with her head in the oven, having sealed the rooms between herself and her sleeping children with wet towels and cloths. At approximately 4:30 am, Plath had placed her head in the oven, with the gas turned on. She was 30. It has been suggested that Plath had not intended to kill herself. That morning she asked her downstairs neighbor, a Mr. Thomas, what time he would be leaving. She also left a note reading "Call Dr. Horder", including the doctor's phone number. Therefore, it is argued Plath turned on the gas at a time when Mr. Thomas would have been able to see the note. However, in her biography Giving Up: The Last Days of Sylvia Plath, Plath's best friend, Jillian Becker wrote, "According to Mr. Goodchild, a police officer attached to the coroner's office ... [Plath] had thrust her head far into the gas oven... [and] had really meant to die." Dr. Horder also believed her intention was clear. He stated that "No-one who saw the care with which the kitchen was prepared could have interpreted her action as anything but an irrational compulsion." In his 1971 book on suicide, friend and critic Al Alvarez claimed that Plath's suicide was an unanswered cry for help. Following death An inquiry on the day following Plath's death gave a ruling of suicide. Hughes was devastated; they had been separated five months. In a letter to an old friend of Plath's from Smith College, he wrote, "That's the end of my life. The rest is posthumous." Plath's gravestone, in Heptonstall's parish churchyard of St Thomas the Apostle, bears the inscription that Hughes chose for her: "Even amidst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted." Biographers variously attribute the source of the quote to the 16th century Buddhist novel Journey to the West written by Wu Ch'eng-En or to the Hindu text, the Bhagavad Gita. The gravestone has been repeatedly vandalized by those aggrieved that "Hughes" is written on the stone; they have attempted to chisel it off, leaving only the name "Sylvia Plath." When Hughes' partner Assia Wevill killed herself and their four-year-old daughter Shura in 1969, this practice intensified. After each defacement, Hughes had the damaged stone removed, sometimes leaving the site unmarked during repair. Outraged mourners accused Hughes in the media of dishonoring her name by removing the stone. Wevill's death led to claims that Hughes had been abusive to both Plath and Wevill. In 1970, radical feminist poet Robin Morgan published the poem "Arraignment", in which she openly accused Hughes of the battery and murder of Plath; other feminists threatened to kill him in Plath's name. In 1989, with Hughes under public attack, a battle raged in the letters pages of The Guardian and The Independent. In The Guardian on April 20, 1989 Hughes wrote the article "The Place Where Sylvia Plath Should Rest in Peace": "In the years soon after [Plath's] death, when scholars approached me, I tried to take their apparently serious concern for the truth about Sylvia Plath seriously. But I learned my lesson early. [...] If I tried too hard to tell them exactly how something happened, in the hope of correcting some fantasy, I was quite likely to be accused of trying to suppress Free Speech. In general, my refusal to have anything to do with the Plath Fantasia has been regarded as an attempt to suppress Free Speech [...] The Fantasia about Sylvia Plath is more needed than the facts. Where that leaves respect for the truth of her life (and of mine), or for her memory, or for the literary tradition, I do not know." On March 16, 2009, Nicholas Hughes, the son of Plath and Hughes, hanged himself at his home in Alaska, following a history of depression. Works Plath wrote poetry from the age of eight, a poem that appeared in the Boston Traveller. By the time she arrived at Smith College she had written over fifty short stories and published in a raft of magazines. At Smith she majored in English and won all the major prizes in writing and scholarship. She edited the college magazine Mademoiselle and on her graduation in 1955, she won the Glascock Prize for Two Lovers and a Beachcomber by the Real Sea. Later at Newnham, Cambridge, she wrote for the Varsity magazine. By the time Heinmann published her first collection, The Colossus and other poems in the UK in late in 1960, Plath had been short-listed several times in the Yale Younger Poets book competition and had had work printed in Harper's, The Spectator and the Times Literary Supplement. All the poems in The Colossus had already been printed in major US and British journals and she had a contract with The New Yorker. It was however her 1965 collection Ariel, published posthumously, on which Plath's reputation essentially rests. In 1971, the volumes Winter Trees and Crossing the Water were published in the UK, including nine previously unseen poems from the original manuscript of Ariel. Writing in New Statesman, fellow poet Peter Porter wrote: "Crossing the Water is full of perfectly realised works. Its most striking impression is of a front-rank artist in the process of discovering her true power. Such is Plath's control that the book possesses a singularity and certainty which should make it as celebrated as The Colossus or Ariel. The Collected Poems, published in 1981, edited and introduced by Ted Hughes, contained poetry written from 1956 until her death. Plath was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, the first poet to win the prize posthumously. In 2006 Anna Journey, then a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University, discovered a previously unpublished sonnet written by Plath entitled Ennui. The poem, composed during Plath's early years at Smith College, is published in Blackbird, the online journal. According to Hughes, Plath left behind "some 130 [typed] pages of another novel, provisionally titled Double Exposure. That manuscript disappeared somewhere around 1970.” Reception The Colossus received largely positive UK reviews, highlighting her voice as new and strong, individual and American in tone. Peter Dickinson at Punch called the collection "a real find" and "exhilarating to read", full of "clean, easy verse". Bernard Bergonzi at the Manchester Guardian said the book was an "outstanding technical accomplishment" with a "virtuoso' quality". From the point of publication she became a presence on the poetry scene. The book went on to be published in America in 1962 to less glowing reviews. Whilst her craft was generally praised, her writing was viewed as more derivative of other poets. Some later critics have described the first book as somewhat young, staid or conventional in comparison to the more free-flowing imagery and intensity of her later work. It was Hughes' publication of Ariel in 1965 that precipitated Plath's rise to fame. As soon as it was published critics began to see the collection as the charting of Plath's increasing desperation or death wish. Her dramatic death became her most famous aspect, and remains so. Time and Life both reviewed the slim volume of Ariel in the wake of her death. The critic at Time said: "Within a week of her death, intellectual London was hunched over copies of a strange and terrible poem she had written during her last sick slide toward suicide. 'Daddy' was its title; its subject was her morbid love-hatred of her father; its style was as brutal as a truncheon. What is more, 'Daddy' was merely the first jet of flame from a literary dragon who in the last months of her life breathed a burning river of bile across the literary landscape. [...] In her most ferocious poems, 'Daddy' and 'Lady Lazarus,' fear, hate, love, death and the poet's own identity become fused at black heat with the figure of her father, and through him, with the guilt of the German exterminators and the suffering of their Jewish victims. They are poems, as Robert Lowell says in his preface to Ariel, that 'play Russian roulette with six cartridges in the cylinder.'"[Notes 3] Some in the feminist movement saw Plath as speaking for their experience, as a "symbol of blighted female genius". Writer Honor Moore describes Ariel as marking the beginning of a movement, Plath suddenly visible as "a woman on paper", certain and audacious. Moore says: "When Sylvia Plath’s Ariel was published in the United States in 1966, American women noticed. Not only women who ordinarily read poems, but housewives and mothers whose ambitions had awakened [...] Here was a woman, superbly trained in her craft, whose final poems uncompromisingly charted female rage, ambivalence, and grief, in a voice with which many women identified." The United States Postal Service will introduce a postage stamp featuring Sylvia Plath in 2012. Themes Sylvia Plath's early poems exhibit what became her typical imagery, using personal and nature-based depictions featuring, for example, the moon, blood, hospitals, fetuses, and skulls. They were mostly imitation exercises of poets she admired such as Dylan Thomas, W. B. Yeats and Marianne Moore. Late in 1959, when she and Hughes were at the Yaddo writers' colony in New York State, she wrote the seven-part "Poem for a Birthday", echoing Theodore Roethke's Lost Son sequence, though its theme is her own traumatic breakdown and suicide attempt at 21. After 1960 her work moved into a more surreal landscape darkened by a sense of imprisonment and looming death, overshadowed by her father. The Colossus is shot through with themes of death, redemption and resurrection. After Hughes left, Plath produced, in less than two months, the forty poems of rage, despair, love, and vengeance on which her reputation mostly rests. The poems in Ariel mark a departure from her earlier work into a more personal arena of poetry. Robert Lowell's poetry may have played a part in this shift as she cited Lowell's 1959 book Life Studies as a significant influence, in an interview just before her death. Posthumously published in 1966, the impact of Ariel was dramatic, with its dark and potentially autobiographical descriptions of mental illness in poems such as '"Tulips", "Daddy" and "Lady Lazarus". Plath's work is often held within the genre of confessional poetry and the style of her work compared to other contemporaries, such as Robert Lowell and W.D. Snodgrass. Plath's close friend Al Alvarez, who has written about her extensively, said of her later work: "Plath's case is complicated by the fact that, in her mature work, she deliberately used the details of her everyday life as raw material for her art. A casual visitor or unexpected telephone call, a cut, a bruise, a kitchen bowl, a candlestick—everything became usable, charged with meaning, transformed. Her poems are full of references and images that seem impenetrable at this distance but which could mostly be explained in footnotes by a scholar with full access to the details of her life." Many of Plath's later poems deal with what one critic calls the "domestic surreal" in which Plath takes every day elements of life and twists the images, giving them an almost nightmarish quality. Plath's fellow confessional poet and friend Anne Sexton commented: "Sylvia and I would talk at length about our first suicide, in detail and in depth—between the free potato chips. Suicide is, after all, the opposite of the poem. Sylvia and I often talked opposites. We talked death with burned-up intensity, both of us drawn to it like moths to an electric lightbulb, sucking on it. She told the story of her first suicide in sweet and loving detail, and her description in The Bell Jar is just that same story." The confessional interpretation of Plath's work has led to some dismissing certain aspects of her work as an exposition of sentimentalist melodrama; in 2010, for example, Theodore Dalrymple asserted that Plath had been the "patron saint of self-dramatization" and of self-pity. Revisionist critics such as Tracy Brain have, however, argued against a tightly autobiographical interpretation of Plath's material. Journals and letters Plath's letters were published in 1975, edited and selected by her mother Aurelia Plath. The collection, Letters Home: Correspondence 1950–1963, came out partly in response to the strong public reaction to the publication of The Bell Jar in America. Plath had kept a diary from the age of 11 until her death, doing so until her suicide. Her adult diaries, starting from her first year at Smith College in 1950, were first published in 1982 as The Journals of Sylvia Plath, edited by Frances McCullough, with Ted Hughes as consulting editor. In 1982, when Smith College acquired Plath's remaining journals, Hughes sealed two of them until February 11, 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of Plath's death. During the last years of his life, Hughes began working on a fuller publication of Plath's journals. In 1998, shortly before his death, he unsealed the two journals, and passed the project onto his children by Plath, Frieda and Nicholas, who passed it on to Karen V. Kukil. Kukil finished her editing in December 1999, and in 2000 Anchor Books published The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. More than half of the new volume contained was newly released material; The American author Joyce Carol Oates hailed the publication as a "genuine literary event". Hughes faced criticism for his role in handling the journals: he claims to have destroyed Plath's last journal, which contained entries from the winter of 1962 up to her death. In the foreword of the 1982 version, he writes, "I destroyed [the last of her journals] because I did not want her children to have to read it (in those days I regarded forgetfulness as an essential part of survival).” The Bell Jar Plath's semi-autobiographical novel was published in 1963 and in the US in 1971, which her mother wished to block. Describing the compilation of the book to her mother, she wrote, "What I've done is to throw together events from my own life, fictionalising to add colour- it's a pot boiler really, but I think it will show how isolated a person feels when he is suffering a breakdown.... I've tried to picture my world and the people in it as seen though the distorting lens of a bell jar". She described her novel as "an autobiographical apprentice work which I had to write in order to free myself from the past". She dated a Yale senior named Dick Norton during her junior year. Norton, upon whom the character of Buddy in The Bell Jar is based, contracted tuberculosis and was treated at the Ray Brook Sanatorium near Saranac Lake. While visiting Norton, Plath broke her leg skiing, an incident that was fictionalized in the novel. Hughes controversy As Hughes and Plath were legally married at the time of her death, Hughes inherited the Plath estate, including all her written work. Hughes has been condemned from some quarters for burning Plath's last journal, saying he "did not want her children to have to read it." He lost another journal and an unfinished novel and instructed that a collection of Plath's papers and journals should not be released until 2013. In the reams of literary criticism and biography published after their deaths, after the release of new material, biopics, or any old-new controversy, the debate over Plath's literary estate is very often reduced to black and white, that is, whose story the readers choose. Hughes has been accused of attempting to control the estate for his own ends, although royalties from Plath's poetry were placed into a trust account for their two children, Frieda and Nicholas. Still the subject of speculation and approbation, Hughes published Birthday Letters in 1998, his own collection of 88 poems about his relationship with Plath. Hughes had published very little about his experience of the marriage and subsequent suicide and the book caused a sensation, being taken as his first explicit disclosure, topping best seller charts. It was not known at the volume's release that Hughes was suffering from terminal cancer and would die later that year. It went on to win the Forward Poetry Prize, the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry and the Whitbread Poetry. The poems, written after her death, in some cases long after, are an account of a failure; they circle round a missing centre, trying to find a reason for why Plath took her own life. Plath was portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow in the 2003 film Sylvia. Frieda Hughes, now a poet and painter, who was two years old when her mother died, was angered by the making of entertainment featuring her parents' lives. She accused the "peanut crunching" public of wanting to be titillated by the family's tragedies. In 2003 she published the poem "My Mother" in Tatler: Now they want to make a film For anyone lacking the ability To imagine the body, head in oven, Orphaning children [...] they think I should give them my mother's words To fill the mouth of their monster, Their Sylvia Suicide Doll Poetry collections * The Colossus and Other Poems (1960, William Heinemann) * Ariel (1961–1965) * Three Women: A Monologue for Three Voices (1968) * Crossing the Water (1971) * Winter Trees (1971) * The Collected Poems (1981) * Selected Poems (1985) * Plath: Poems (1998) * Sylvia Plath Reads, Harper Audio (2000) (Audio) Collected prose and novels * The Bell Jar: A novel (1963), under the pseudonym "Victoria Lucas" * Letters Home: Correspondence 1950–1963 (1975) * Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams: Short Stories, Prose, and Diary Excerpts (1977) * The Journals of Sylvia Plath (1982) * The Magic Mirror (published 1989), Plath's Smith College senior thesis * The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, edited by Karen V. Kukil (2000) Children's books * The Bed Book (1976) * The It-Doesn't-Matter-Suit (1996) * Collected Children's Stories (UK, 2001) * Mrs. Cherry's Kitchen (2001) References Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvia_Plath

Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney was born on April 13, 1939, in Castledawson, County Derry, Northern Ireland. He earned a teacher's certificate in English at St. Joseph's College in Belfast and in 1963 took a position as a lecturer in English at that school. While at St. Joseph's he began to write, joining a poetry workshop with Derek Mahon, Michael Longley, and others under the guidance of Philip Hobsbaum. In 1965 he married Marie Devlin, and the following year he published Death of a Naturalist. Since then he has published hundreds more, in such collections as Human Chain (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010), District and Circle (Faber and Faber, 2006), Opened Ground (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999), which was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; The Spirit Level (1996); Selected Poems 1966-1987 (1990); and Sweeney Astray (1984). He has also written several volumes of criticism, including The Redress of Poetry (1995). Heaney's most recent translation is Beowulf (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000), which won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award. He is also co-translator, with Stanislaw Baranczak, of Laments: Poems of Jan Kochanowski (1995), and co-author, with Joseph Brodsky and Derek Walcott, of a collection of essays entitled Homage to Robert Frost (1996). In June of 2012, Heaney was awarded the Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Trust For Excellence He is also a Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and held the chair of Professor of Poetry at Oxford from 1989 to 1994. In 1995 he received the Nobel Prize in Literature. Heaney has been a resident of Dublin since 1976, but since 1981 he has spent part of each year teaching at Harvard University, where in 1984 he was elected the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory. Seamus Heaney passed away in Dublin, Ireland, on August 30, 2013. He was 74. Poetry Death of a Naturalist (1966) Door into the Dark (1969) Field Work (1979) New Selected Poems, 1966-1987 (1990) North (1975) Poems 1965-1975 (1980) Seeing Things (1991) Station Island (1984) Sweeney Astray: A Version From the Irish (1983) The Haw Lantern (1987) The Midnight Verdict (1993) The Spirit Level (1996) Wintering Out (1972) District and Circle (2006) Human Chain (2010) Prose Crediting Poetry: The Nobel Lecture (1996) Homage to Robert Frost, with Joseph Brodsky and Derek Walcott (1996) Preoccupations: Selected Prose, 1968-1978 (1980) The Fire i' the Flint: Reflections on the Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins (1975) The Government of the Tongue: Selected Prose 1978-1987 (1988) The Place of Writing (1989) The Redress of Poetry: Oxford Lectures (1995) Anthology Beowulf (2000) Laments (1995) Drama The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles' Philoctetes (1991) References Poets.org - www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/211

Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton (November 9, 1928, Newton, Massachusetts – October 4, 1974, Weston, Massachusetts) was an American poet, known for her highly personal, confessional verse. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967. Themes of her poetry include her suicidal tendencies, long battle against depression and various intimate details from her private life, including her relationships with her husband and children. Early life and family Anne Sexton was born Anne Gray Harvey in Newton, Massachusetts to Mary Gray Staples and Ralph Harvey. She spent most of her childhood in Boston. In 1945 she enrolled at Rogers Hall boarding school, Lowell, Massachusetts, later spending a year at Garland School. For a time she modeled for Boston's Hart Agency. On August 16, 1948, she married Alfred Sexton and they remained together until 1973. She had two children named Linda Gray and Joyce Ladd. Poetry Sexton suffered from severe mental illness for much of her life, her first manic episode taking place in 1954. After a second episode in 1955 she met Dr Martin Orne, who became her long-term therapist at the Glenside Hospital, and encouraged her to take up poetry. The first poetry workshop she attended was led by John Holmes. Sexton felt great trepidation about registering for the class, asking a friend to make the phone call and accompany her to the first session. She found early acclaim with her poetry; a number were accepted by The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine and the Saturday Review. Sexton later studied with Robert Lowell at Boston University alongside distinguished poets Sylvia Plath and George Starbuck. Sexton's poetic career was encouraged by her mentor W.D. Snodgrass, whom she met at the Antioch Writer's Conference in 1957. His poem "Heart's Needle" proved inspirational for her in its theme of separation from his three-year-old daughter. She first read the poem at a time when her own young daughter was living with Sexton's mother-in-law. She, in turn, wrote "The Double Image," a poem which explores the multi-generational relationship between mother and daughter. Sexton began writing letters to Snodgrass and they became friends. While working with John Holmes, Sexton encountered Maxine Kumin. They became good friends and remained so for the rest of Sexton's life. Kumin and Sexton rigorously critiqued each other's work and wrote four children's books together. In the late 1960s, the manic elements of Sexton's illness began to affect her career, though she still wrote and published work and gave readings of her poetry. She also collaborated with musicians, forming a jazz-rock group called "Her Kind" that added music to her poetry. Her play "Mercy Street," starring Marian Seldes, was produced in 1969, after several years of revisions. Within twelve years of writing her first sonnet, she was one of the most honored poets in America: a Pulitzer Prize winner, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the first female member of the Harvard chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Death On October 4, 1974, Sexton had lunch with poet Maxine Kumin to revise galleys for Sexton's manuscript of The Awful Rowing Toward God, scheduled for publication in March 1975 (Middlebrook 396). On returning home she put on her mother's old fur coat, removed all her rings, poured herself a glass of vodka, locked herself in her garage, and started the engine of her car, committing suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. In an interview over a year before her death, she explained she had written the first drafts of The Awful Rowing Toward God in twenty days with "two days out for despair and three days out in a mental hospital." She went on to say that she would not allow the poems to be published before her death. She is buried at Forest Hills Cemetery & Crematory in Jamaica Plain, Boston, Massachusetts. Content and themes of work Sexton is seen as the modern model of the confessional poet. Aside from her standard themes of depression, isolation, suicide, and despair, her work also encompasses issues specific to women, such as menstruation and abortion—and more broadly, masturbation and adultery—before such subjects were commonly addressed in poetic discourse. Her work towards the end of the sixties has been criticized as "preening, lazy and flip" by otherwise respectful critics. Some critics regard her dependence on alcohol as compromising her last work. However, other critics see Sexton as a poet whose writing matured over time. "Starting as a relatively conventional writer, she learned to roughen up her line. . . . to use as an instrument against the 'politesse' of language, politics, religion [and] sex." Her eighth collection of poetry is entitled The Awful Rowing Toward God. The title came from her meeting with a Roman Catholic priest who, although unwilling to administer last rites, told her "God is in your typewriter." This gave the poet the desire and willpower to continue living and writing. The Awful Rowing Toward God and The Death Notebooks are among her final works, and both center on the theme of dying. Her work started out as being about herself, however as her career progressed she made periodic attempts to reach outside the realm of her own life for poetic themes. Transformations (1971), which is a revisionary re-telling of Grimm's Fairy Tales, is one such book. (Transformations was used as the libretto for the 1973 opera of the same name by American composer Conrad Susa.) Later she used Christopher Smart's Jubilate Agno and the Bible as the basis for some of her work. Much has been made of the tangled threads of her writing, her life and her depression, much in the same way as with Sylvia Plath's suicide in 1963. John Berryman, Robert Lowell, Adrienne Rich and Denise Levertov commented in separate obituaries on the role of creativity in Sexton's death. Levertov says, "We who are alive must make clear, as she could not, the distinction between creativity and self-destruction.” Subsequent controversy Following one of many suicide attempts and manic or depressive episodes, Sexton worked with therapist Dr. Martin Orne. He diagnosed her with what is now described as bipolar disorder, but his competence to do so is called into question by his early use of allegedly unsound psychotherapeutic techniques. During sessions with Anne Sexton he used hypnosis and sodium pentothal to recover supposedly repressed memories. During this process, he allegedly used suggestion to uncover memories of inflicting childhood sexual abuse. This abuse was disputed in interviews with her mother and other relatives. Dr. Orne wrote that hypnosis in an adult frequently does not present accurate memories of childhood; instead, "adults under hypnosis are not literally reliving their early childhoods but presenting them through the prisms of adulthood." According to Dr. Orne, Anne Sexton was extremely suggestible and would mimic the symptoms of the patients around her in the mental hospitals to which she was committed. The Middlebrook biography states that a separate personality named Elizabeth emerged in Sexton while under hypnosis. Dr. Orne did not encourage this development and subsequently this "alternate personality" disappeared. Dr. Orne eventually concluded that Anne Sexton was suffering from hysteria. During the writing of the Middlebrook biography, Linda Gray Sexton stated that she had been sexually assaulted by her mother. In 1994, Linda Gray Sexton published her autobiography, Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back to My Mother, Anne Sexton, which includes her own accounts of the abuse. Middlebrook published her controversial biography of Anne Sexton with the approval of Linda Gray Sexton, Anne's literary executor. For use in the biography, Dr. Orne had given Diane Middlebrook most of the tapes recording the therapy sessions between Orne and Anne Sexton. The use of these tapes was met with, as The New York Times put it, "thunderous condemnation." Middlebrook received the tapes after she had written a substantial amount of the first draft of Sexton's biography, and decided to start over. Although Linda Gray Sexton collaborated with the Middlebrook biography, other members of the Sexton family were divided over the book, publishing several editorials and op-ed pieces, in The New York Times and The New York Times Book Review. Controversy continued with the posthumous public release of the tapes (which had been subject to doctor-patient confidentiality). They are said to reveal Sexton's inappropriate behavior with her daughter Linda, her physically violent behavior toward both her daughters, and her physical altercations with her husband.[dead link] Yet more controversy surrounded allegations that Anne Sexton had an affair with the therapist who replaced Dr. Orne in the 1960s. No action was taken to censure or discipline the second therapist. Dr. Orne considered the affair with the second therapist (given the pseudonym "Ollie Zweizung" by Middlebrook and Linda Sexton) to be the catalyst that eventually resulted in her suicide. Poetry and Prose (collections and novels) * Uncompleted Novel-started in the 1960s * To Bedlam and Part Way Back (1960) * The Starry Night (1961) * All My Pretty Ones (1962) * Live or Die (1966) - Winner of the Pulitzer prize in 1967 * Love Poems (1969) * Mercy Street, a 2-act play performed at the American Place Theatre (1969) * Transformations (1971) ISBN 0-618-08343-X * The Book of Folly (1972) * The Death Notebooks (1974) * The Awful Rowing Toward God (1975; posthumous) * 45 Mercy Street (1976; posthumous) * Anne Sexton: A Self Portrait in Letters, edited by Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames (1977; posthumous) * Words for Dr. Y. (1978; posthumous) * No Evil Star: Selected Essays, Interviews and Prose, edited by Steven E. Colburn (1985; posthumous) Children's books * 1963 Eggs of Things (illustrated by Leonard Shortall) * 1964 More Eggs of Things (illustrated by Leonard Shortall) * 1974 Joey and the Birthday Present (illustrated by Evaline Ness) * 1975 The Wizard's Tears (illustrated by Evaline Ness) References Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Sexton

Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy, OM (2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928) was an English novelist and poet. While his works typically belong to the Naturalism movement, several poems display elements of the previous Romantic and Enlightenment periods of literature, such as his fascination with the supernatural. While he regarded himself primarily as a poet who composed novels mainly for financial gain, he became and continues to be widely regarded for his novels, such as Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Far from the Madding Crowd. The bulk of his fictional works, initially published as serials in magazines, were set in the semi-fictional county of Wessex (based on the Dorchester region where he grew up) and explored tragic characters struggling against their passions and social circumstances. Hardy's poetry, first published in his fifties, has come to be as well regarded as his novels and has had a significant influence over modern English poetry, especially after The Movement poets of the 1950s and 1960s cited Hardy as a major figure. Thomas Hardy was born in Upper Bockhampton, a hamlet in the parish of Stinsford to the east of Dorchester in Dorset, England in 1840. His father Thomas (d.) worked as a stonemason and local builder. His mother Jemima (d.) was well-read. She educated Thomas until he went to his first school at Bockhampton at age eight. For several years he attended Mr. Last's Academy for Young Gentlemen in Dorchester. Here he learned Latin and demonstrated academic potential. However, a family of Hardy's social position lacked the means for a university education, and his formal education ended at the age of sixteen when he became apprenticed to James Hicks, a local architect. Hardy trained as an architect in Dorchester before moving to London in 1862; there he enrolled as a student at King's College, London. He won prizes from the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Architectural Association. Hardy was in charge of the excavation of the graveyard of St Pancras Old Church prior to its destruction when the Midland Railway was extended a new terminus at St Pancras. Hardy never felt at home in London. He was acutely conscious of class divisions and his social inferiority. However, he was interested in social reform and was familiar with the works of John Stuart Mill. He was also introduced to the works of Charles Fourier and Auguste Comte during this period by his Dorset friend, Horace Moule. Five years later, concerned about his health, he returned to Dorset and decided to dedicate himself to writing. In 1870, while on an architectural mission to restore the parish church of St Juliot in Cornwall, Hardy met and fell in love with Emma Lavinia Gifford, whom he married in 1874. Although he later became estranged from his son her death in 1912 had a traumatic effect on him. After her death, Hardy made a trip to Cornwall to revisit places linked with their courtship, and his Poems 1912–13 reflect upon her death. In 1914, Hardy married his secretary Florence Emily Dugdale, who was 39 years his junior. However, he remained preoccupied with his first wife's death and tried to overcome his remorse by writing poetry. Hardy became ill with pleurisy in December 1927 and died at Max Gate just after 9 pm on 11 January 1928, having dictated his final poem to his wife on his deathbed; the cause of death was cited, on his death certificate, as "cardiac syncope", with "old age" given as a contributory factor. His funeral was on 16 January at Westminster Abbey, and it proved a controversial occasion because Hardy and his family and friends had wished for his body to be interred at Stinsford in the same grave as his first wife, Emma. However, his executor, Sir Sydney Carlyle Cockerell, insisted that he be placed in the abbey's famous Poets' Corner. A compromise was reached whereby his heart was buried at Stinsford with Emma, and his ashes in Poets' Corner. Shortly after Hardy's death, the executors of his estate burnt his letters and notebooks. Twelve records survived, one of them containing notes and extracts of newspaper stories from the 1820s. Research into these provided insight into how Hardy kept track of them and how he used them in his later work. In the year of his death Mrs Hardy published The Early Life of Thomas Hardy, 1841–1891: compiled largely from contemporary notes, letters, diaries, and biographical memoranda, as well as from oral information in conversations extending over many years. Hardy's work was admired by many writers of a younger generation including D. H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf. In his autobiography Goodbye to All That, Robert Graves recalls meeting Hardy in Dorset in the early 1920s. Hardy received him and his new wife warmly, and was encouraging about his work. In 1910, Hardy was awarded the Order of Merit. Hardy's cottage at Bockhampton and Max Gate in Dorchester are owned by the National Trust. Novels Hardy's first novel, The Poor Man and the Lady, finished by 1867, failed to find a publisher and Hardy destroyed the manuscript so only parts of the novel remain. He was encouraged to try again by his mentor and friend, Victorian poet and novelist George Meredith. Desperate Remedies (1871) and Under the Greenwood Tree (1872) were published anonymously. In 1873 A Pair of Blue Eyes, a novel drawing on Hardy's courtship of his first wife, was not published under his own name. The term "cliffhanger" is considered to have originated with the serialised version of this story (which was published in Tinsley's Magazine between September 1872 and July 1873) in which Henry Knight, one of the protagonists, is left literally hanging off a cliff. Hardy said that he first introduced Wessex in Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), his next novel. It was successful enough for Hardy to give up architectural work and pursue a literary career. Over the next twenty-five years Hardy produced ten more novels. The Hardys moved from London to Yeovil and then to Sturminster Newton, where he wrote The Return of the Native (1878). In 1885, they moved for the last time, to Max Gate, a house outside Dorchester designed by Hardy and built by his brother. There he wrote The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), The Woodlanders (1887), and Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891), the last of which attracted criticism for its sympathetic portrayal of a "fallen woman" and was initially refused publication. Its subtitle, A Pure Woman: Faithfully Presented, was intended to raise the eyebrows of the Victorian middle-classes. Jude the Obscure, published in 1895, met with even stronger negative outcries from the Victorian public for its frank treatment of sex, and was often referred to as "Jude the Obscene". Heavily criticised for its apparent attack on the institution of marriage through the presentation of such concepts as erotolepsy, the book caused further strain on Hardy's already difficult marriage because Emma Hardy was concerned that Jude the Obscure would be read as autobiographical. Some booksellers sold the novel in brown paper bags, and the Bishop of Wakefield is reputed to have burnt his copy. In his postscript of 1912, Hardy humorously referred to this incident as part of the career of the book: "After these [hostile] verdicts from the press its next misfortune was to be burnt by a bishop – probably in his despair at not being able to burn me”. Despite this criticism, Hardy had become a celebrity in English literature by the 1900s, with several highly successful novels behind him. Even so, he felt disgust at the public reception of two of his greatest works and gave up writing fiction altogether. Other novels written by Hardy include Two on a Tower, a romance story set in the world of astronomy. With some notable exceptions, for example Tess of the D'Urbervilles which was produceed the 1979 Polanski film Tess, and unlike the novels of Charles Dickens and George Eliot, Hardy's novels do not beg to be filmed or to be adapted for the stage. Some scholars have suggested that this is due to the absence of a flair in Hardy for the overtly dramatic. Literary themes Hardy criticises certain social constraints that hindered the lives of those living in the 19th century. Considered a Victorian Realist writer, Hardy examines the social constraints that are part of the Victorian status quo, suggesting these rules hinder the lives of all involved and ultimately lead to unhappiness. In Two on a Tower, Hardy seeks to take a stand against these rules and sets up a story against the backdrop of social structure by creating a story of love that crosses the boundaries of class. The reader is forced to consider disposing of the conventions set up for love. Nineteenth-century society enforces these conventions, and societal pressure ensures conformity. Swithin St Cleeve's idealism pits him against contemporary social constraints. He is a self-willed individual set up against the coercive strictures of social rules and mores. In a novel structured around contrasts, the main opposition is between Swithin St Cleeve and Lady Viviette Constantine, who are presented as binary figures in a series of ways: aristocratic and lower class, youthful and mature, single and married, fair and dark, religious and agnostic…she [Lady Viviette Constantine] is also deeply conventional, absurdly wishing to conceal their marriage until Swithin has achieved social status through his scientific work, which gives rise to uncontrolled ironies and tragic-comic misunderstandings (Harvey 108). Hardy’s characters often encounter crossroads, which are symbolic of a point of opportunity and transition. But the hand of fate is an important part of many of Hardy's plots. Far From the Madding Crowd tells a tale of lives that are constructed by chance. “Had Bathsheba not sent the valentine, had Fanny not missed her wedding, for example, the story would have taken an entirely different path.” Hardy's main characters often seem to be in the overwhelming and overpowering grip of fate. Poetry In 1898 Hardy published his first volume of poetry, Wessex Poems, a collection of poems written over 30 years. Hardy claimed poetry as his first love, and after a great amount of negative criticism erupted from the publication of his novel Jude The Obscure, Hardy decided to give up writing novels permanently and to focus his literary efforts on writing poetry. After giving up the novel form, Hardy continued to publish poetry collections until his death in 1928. Although he did publish one last novel in 1897, that novel, The Well-Beloved, had actually been written prior to Jude the Obscure. Although his poems were not initially as well received by his contemporaries as his novels were, Hardy is now recognised as one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. His verse had a profound influence on later writers, notably Philip Larkin, who included many of Hardy's poems in the edition of the Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse that Larkin edited in 1973. In a recent biography on Hardy, Claire Tomalin argues that Hardy became a truly great English poet after the death of his first wife, Emma, beginning with the elegies he wrote in her memory, calling these poems, "one of the finest and strangest celebrations of the dead in English poetry." Most of Hardy's poems, such as "Neutral Tones'" and "A Broken Appointment", deal with themes of disappointment in love and life (which were also prominent themes in his novels), and mankind's long struggle against indifference to human suffering. Using stylistic patterns similar to those that he used in his novels, Hardy sometimes wrote ironic poems, like "Ah, Are You Digging On My Grave," in which he employed twist endings in the last few lines or in the last stanza to convey that irony. Some, like "The Darkling Thrush" and "An August Midnight", appear as poems about writing poetry, because the nature mentioned in them gives Hardy the inspiration to write. His compositions range in style from the three-volume epic closet drama The Dynasts to shorter poems such as "A Broken Appointment." A particularly strong theme in the Wessex Poems is the long shadow that the Napoleonic Wars cast over the nineteenth century, for example, in "The Sergeant's Song" and "Leipzig". A few of Hardy's poems, such as "The Blinded Bird" (a melancholy polemic against the sport of vinkenzetting), display his love of the natural world and his firm stance against animal cruelty, exhibited in his antivivisectionist views and his membership in the RSPCA. A number of notable composers, including Gerald Finzi, Benjamin Britten, and Gustav Holst, have set poems by Hardy to music. Religious beliefs Hardy's family was Anglican, but not especially devout. He was baptised at the age of five weeks and attended church, where his father and uncle contributed to music. However, he did not attend the local Church of England school, instead being sent to Mr Last's school, three miles away. As a young adult, he befriended Henry R. Bastow (a Plymouth Brethren man), who also worked as a pupil architect, and who was preparing for adult baptism in the Baptist Church. Hardy flirted with conversion, but decided against it. Bastow went to Australia and maintained a long correspondence with Hardy, but eventually Hardy tired of these exchanges and the correspondence ceased. This concluded Hardy's links with the Baptists. Although Hardy’s faith remained intact, the irony and struggles of life led him to question the traditional Christian view of God: The Christian god – the external personality – has been replaced by the intelligence of the First Cause…the replacement of the old concept of God as all-powerful by a new concept of universal consciousness. The 'tribal god, man-shaped, fiery-faced and tyrannous' is replaced by the 'unconscious will of the Universe' which progressively grows aware of itself and 'ultimately, it is to be hoped, sympathetic'. Hardy's religious life seems to have mixed agnosticism, deism, and spiritism. Once, when asked in correspondence by a clergyman about the question of reconciling the horrors of pain with the goodness of a loving God, Hardy replied, Mr. Hardy regrets that he is unable to offer any hypothesis which would reconcile the existence of such evils as Dr. Grosart describes with the idea of omnipotent goodness. Perhaps Dr. Grosart might be helped to a provisional view of the universe by the recently published Life of Darwin and the works of Herbert Spencer and other agnostics. Nevertheless, Hardy frequently conceived of and wrote about supernatural forces that control the universe, more through indifference or caprice than any firm will. Also, Hardy showed in his writing some degree of fascination with ghosts and spirits. Despite these sentiments, Hardy retained a strong emotional attachment to the Christian liturgy and church rituals, particularly as manifested in rural communities, that had been such a formative influence in his early years, and Biblical references can be found woven throughout many of Hardy's novels. Hardy's friends during his apprenticeship to John Hicks included Horace Moule (one of the eight sons of Henry Moule), and the poet William Barnes, both ministers of religion. Moule remained a close friend of Hardy's for the rest of his life, and introduced him to new scientific findings that cast doubt on literal interpretations of the Bible, such as those of Gideon Mantell. Moule gave Hardy a copy of Mantell's book The Wonders of Geology (1848) in 1858, and Adelene Buckland has suggested that there are "compelling similarities" between the "cliffhanger" section from A Pair of Blue Eyes and Mantell's geological descriptions. It has also been suggested that the character of Henry Knight in A Pair of Blue Eyes was based on Horace Moule. Locations in novels Berkshire is North Wessex, Devon is Lower Wessex, Dorset is South Wessex, Somerset is Outer or Nether Wessex, Wiltshire is Mid-Wessex, Bere Regis is King's-Bere of Tess, Bincombe Down cross roads is the scene of the military execution in A Melancholy Hussar. It is a true story, the deserters from the German Legion were shot in 1801 and are recorded in the parish register. Bindon Abbey is where Clare carried her. Bournemouth is Sandbourne of Hand of Ethelberta and Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Bridport is Port Bredy, Charborough House and its folly tower is the model for Welland House in the novel Two on a Tower. Corfe Castle is the Corvsgate-Castle of Hand of Ethelberta. Cranborne Chase is The Chase scene of Tess's seduction. (Note – Bowerchalke on Cranborne Chase was the film location for the great fire in John Schlesinger's 1967 film Far from the Madding Crowd.) Milborne St Andrew is "Millpond St Judes" in Far From the Madding Crowd. Charborough House is located between Sturminster Marshall and Bere Regis. Charborough House and its folly tower is the model for Welland House in the novel Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy. Little England Cottage, Milborne St Andrew being the location of Swithin St Cleeves home and remains as described to this day. Dorchester, Dorset is Casterbridge, the scene of Mayor of Casterbridge. Dunster Castle in Somerset is Castle De Stancy of A Laodicean. Fordington moor is Durnover moor and fields. Greenhill Fair near Bere Regis is Woodbury Hill Fair, Lulworth Cove is Lulstead Cove, Marnhull is Marlott of Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Melbury House near Evershot is Great Hintock Court in A Group of Noble Dames. Minterne is Little Hintock, Owermoigne is Nether Moynton in Wessex Tales. Piddlehinton and Piddle Trenthide are the Longpuddle of A Few Crusted Characters. Puddletown Heath, Moreton Heath, Tincleton Heath and Bere Heath are Egdon Heath. Poole is Havenpool in Life's Little Ironies. Portland is the scene of The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved. Puddletown is Weatherbury in Far from the Madding Crowd, River Frome valley is the scene of Talbothays dairy in Tess. Salisbury is Melchester in On the Western Circuit, Life's Little Ironies and Jude the Obscure etc. Shaftesbury is Shaston in Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure. Sherborne is Sherton-Abbas, Sherborne Castle is home of Lady Baxby in A Group of Noble Dames. Stonehenge is the scene of Tess's apprehension. Sutton Poyntz is Overcombe. Swanage is the Knollsea of Hand of Ethelberta. Taunton is known as Toneborough in both Hardy's novels and poems. Wantage is Alfredston, of Jude the Obscure. Fawley, Berkshire is Marygreen of Jude the Obscure. Weyhill is Weydon Priors, Weymouth is Budmouth Regis, the scene of Trumpet Major & portions of other novels; Winchester is Wintoncester where Tess was executed. Wimborne is Warborne of Two on a Tower. Wolfeton House, near Dorchester is the scene of The Lady Penelope in a Group of Noble Dames. Woolbridge Manor House, close to Wool station, is the scene of Tess's confession and honeymoon. Influence Hardy provides the springboard for D. H. Lawrence's Study of Thomas Hardy (1936). Though this work became a platform for Lawrence's own developing philosophy rather than a more standard literary study, the influence of Hardy's treatment of character and Lawrence's own response to the central metaphysic behind many of Hardy's novels helped significantly in the development of The Rainbow (1915, suppressed) and Women in Love (1920, private publication). Hardy was clearly the starting point for the character of the novelist Edward Driffield in W Somerset Maugham's novel Cakes and Ale. Thomas Hardy's works feature prominently in the narrative in Christopher Durang's The Marriage of Bette and Boo, in which a graduate thesis analysing Tess of the d'Urbervilles is interspersed with analysis of Matt's family's neuroses. Works Prose Hardy divided his novels and collected short stories into three classes: Novels of Character and Environment The Poor Man and the Lady (1867, unpublished and lost) Under the Greenwood Tree (1872) Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) The Return of the Native (1878) The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886) The Woodlanders (1887) Wessex Tales (1888, a collection of short stories) Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891) Life's Little Ironies (1894, a collection of short stories) Jude the Obscure (1895) Romances and Fantasies A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873) The Trumpet-Major (1880) Two on a Tower (1882) A Group of Noble Dames (1891, a collection of short stories) The Well-Beloved (1897) (first published as a serial from 1892) Novels of Ingenuity Desperate Remedies (1871) The Hand of Ethelberta (1876) A Laodicean (1881) Hardy also produced a number of minor tales and a collaborative novel, The Spectre of the Real (1894). An additional short-story collection, beyond the ones mentioned above, is A Changed Man and Other Tales (1913). His works have been collected as the 24-volume Wessex Edition (1912–13) and the 37-volume Mellstock Edition (1919–20). His largely self-written biography appears under his second wife's name in two volumes from 1928–30, as The Early Life of Thomas Hardy, 1840–91 and The Later Years of Thomas Hardy, 1892–1928, now published in a critical one-volume edition as The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy, edited by Michael Millgate (1984). Short stories "How I Built Myself A House" (1865) "Destiny and a Blue Cloak" (1874) "The Thieves Who Couldn't Stop Sneezing" (1877) "The Duchess of Hamptonshire" (1878) "The Distracted Preacher" (1879) "Fellow-Townsmen" (1880) "The Honourable Laura" (1881) "What The Shepherd Saw" (1881) "A Tradition of Eighteen Hundred and Four" (1882) "The Three Strangers" (1883) "The Romantic Adventures Of A Milkmaid" (1883) "Interlopers At The Knap" (1884) "A Mere Interlude" (1885) "A Tryst At An Ancient Earthwork" (1885) "Alicia's Diary" (1887) "The Waiting Supper" (1887–88) "The Withered Arm" (1888) "A Tragedy Of Two Ambitions" (1888) "The First Countess of Wessex" (1889) "Anna, Lady Baxby" (1890) "The Lady Icenway" (1890) "Lady Mottisfont" (1890) "The Lady Penelope" (1890) "The Marchioness of Stonehenge" (1890) "Squire Petrick's Lady" (1890) "Barbara of the House of Grebe" (1890) "The Melancholy Hussar of The German Legion" (1890) "Absent-Mindedness in a Parish Choir" (1891) "The Winters And The Palmleys" (1891) "For Conscience' Sake" (1891) "Incident in Mr. Crookhill's Life"(1891) "The Doctor's Legend" (1891) "Andrey Satchel and the Parson and Clerk" (1891) "The History of the Hardcomes" (1891) "Netty Sargent's Copyhold" (1891) "On The Western Circuit" (1891) "A Few Crusted Characters: Introduction" (1891) "The Superstitious Man's Story" (1891) "Tony Kytes, the Arch-Deceiver" (1891) "To Please His Wife" (1891) "The Son's Veto" (1891) "Old Andrey's Experience as a Musician" (1891) "Our Exploits At West Poley" (1892–93) "Master John Horseleigh, Knight" (1893) "The Fiddler of the Reels" (1893) "An Imaginative Woman" (1894) "The Spectre of the Real" (1894) "A Committee-Man of 'The Terror'" (1896) "The Duke's Reappearance" (1896) "The Grave By The Handpost" (1897) "A Changed Man" (1900) "Enter a Dragoon" (1900) "Blue Jimmy: The Horse Stealer" (1911) "Old Mrs. Chundle" (1929) "The Unconquerable"(1992) Poetry collections The Photograph (1890) Wessex Poems and Other Verses (1898) Poems of the Past and Present (1901) The Man He Killed (1902) Time's Laughingstocks and Other Verses (1909) The Voice (1912) Satires of Circumstance (1914) Moments of Vision (1917) Collected Poems (1919) Late Lyrics and Earlier with Many Other Verses (1923) Human Shows, Far Phantasies, Songs and Trifles (1925) Winter Words in Various Moods and Metres (1928) The Complete Poems (Macmillan, 1976) Selected Poems (Edited by Harry Thomas, Penguin, 1993) Hardy: Poems (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets, 1995) Thomas Hardy: Selected Poetry and Nonfictional Prose (St. Martin's Press, 1996) Selected Poems (Edited by Robert Mezey, Penguin, 1998) Thomas Hardy: The Complete Poems (Edited by James Gibson, Palgrave, 2001) Drama The Dynasts (verse drama) The Dynasts, Part 1 (1904) The Dynasts, Part 2 (1906) The Dynasts, Part 3 (1908) The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall at Tintagel in Lyonnesse (1923) (one-act play) References Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Hardy

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman was born on May 31, 1819. He was the second son of Walter Whitman, a housebuilder, and Louisa Van Velsor. The family, which consisted of nine children, lived in Brooklyn and Long Island in the 1820s and 1830s. At the age of twelve, Whitman began to learn the printer's trade, and fell in love with the written word. Largely self-taught, he read voraciously, becoming acquainted with the works of Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, and the Bible. Whitman worked as a printer in New York City until a devastating fire in the printing district demolished the industry. In 1836, at the age of 17, he began his career as teacher in the one-room school houses of Long Island. He continued to teach until 1841, when he turned to journalism as a full-time career. He founded a weekly newspaper, Long-Islander, and later edited a number of Brooklyn and New York papers. In 1848, Whitman left the Brooklyn Daily Eagle to become editor of the New Orleans Crescent. It was in New Orleans that he experienced at first hand the viciousness of slavery in the slave markets of that city. On his return to Brooklyn in the fall of 1848, he founded a "free soil" newspaper, the Brooklyn Freeman, and continued to develop the unique style of poetry that later so astonished Ralph Waldo Emerson. In 1855, Whitman took out a copyright on the first edition of Leaves of Grass, which consisted of twelve untitled poems and a preface. He published the volume himself, and sent a copy to Emerson in July of 1855. Whitman released a second edition of the book in 1856, containing thirty-three poems, a letter from Emerson praising the first edition, and a long open letter by Whitman in response. During his subsequent career, Whitman continued to refine the volume, publishing several more editions of the book. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Whitman vowed to live a "purged" and "cleansed" life. He wrote freelance journalism and visited the wounded at New York-area hospitals. He then traveled to Washington, D.C. in December 1862 to care for his brother who had been wounded in the war. Overcome by the suffering of the many wounded in Washington, Whitman decided to stay and work in the hospitals and stayed in the city for eleven years. He took a job as a clerk for the Department of the Interior, which ended when the Secretary of the Interior, James Harlan, discovered that Whitman was the author of Leaves of Grass, which Harlan found offensive. Harlan fired the poet. Whitman struggled to support himself through most of his life. In Washington, he lived on a clerk's salary and modest royalties, and spent any excess money, including gifts from friends, to buy supplies for the patients he nursed. He had also been sending money to his widowed mother and an invalid brother. From time to time writers both in the states and in England sent him "purses" of money so that he could get by. In the early 1870s, Whitman settled in Camden, NJ, where he had come to visit his dying mother at his brother's house. However, after suffering a stroke, Whitman found it impossible to return to Washington. He stayed with his brother until the 1882 publication of Leaves of Grass gave Whitman enough money to buy a home in Camden. In the simple two-story clapboard house, Whitman spent his declining years working on additions and revisions to a new edition of the book and preparing his final volume of poems and prose, Good-Bye, My Fancy (1891). After his death on March 26, 1892, Whitman was buried in a tomb he designed and had built on a lot in Harleigh Cemetery. A Selected Bibliography Poetry * Leaves of Grass (1855) * Leaves of Grass (1856) * Leaves of Grass (1860) * Drum Taps (1865) * Sequel to Drum Taps (1865) * Leaves of Grass (1867) * Leaves of Grass (1870) * Passage to India (1870) * Leaves of Grass (1876) * Leaves of Grass (1881) * Good-Bye, My Fancy (1891) * Leaves of Grass (1891) Prose * Franklin Evans; or, The Inebriate (1842) * Democratic Vistas (1871) * Memoranda During the War (1875) * Specimen Days and Collect (1881) * November Boughs (1888) * Complete Prose Works (1892) References Poets.org - http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/126

Lord Byron

George Gordon Byron was born on January 22, 1788 in Aberdeen, Scotland, and inherited his family's English title at the age of ten, becoming Baron Byron of Rochdale. Abandoned by his father at an early age and resentful of his mother, who he blamed for his being born with a deformed foot, Byron isolated himself during his youth and was deeply unhappy. Though he was the heir to an idyllic estate, the property was run down and his family had no assets with which to care for it. As a teenager, Byron discovered that he was attracted to men as well as women, which made him all the more remote and secretive. He studied at Aberdeen Grammar School and then Trinity College in Cambridge. During this time Byron collected and published his first volumes of poetry. The first, published anonymously and titled Fugitive Pieces, was printed in 1806 and contained a miscellany of poems, some of which were written when Byron was only fourteen. As a whole, the collection was considered obscene, in part because it ridiculed specific teachers by name, and in part because it contained frank, erotic verses. At the request of a friend, Byron recalled and burned all but four copies of the book, then immediately began compiling a revised version—though it was not published during his lifetime. The next year, however, Byron published his second collection, Hours of Idleness, which contained many of his early poems, as well as significant additions, including poems addressed to John Edelston, a younger boy whom Byron had befriended and deeply loved. By Byron's twentieth birthday, he faced overwhelming debt. Though his second collection received an initially favorable response, a disturbingly negative review was printed in January of 1808, followed by even more scathing criticism a few months later. His response was a satire, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, which received mixed attention. Publicly humiliated and with nowhere else to turn, Byron set out on a tour of the Mediterranean, traveling with a friend to Portugal, Spain, Albania, Turkey, and finally Athens. Enjoying his new-found sexual freedom, Byron decided to stay in Greece after his friend returned to England, studying the language and working on a poem loosely based on his adventures. Inspired by the culture and climate around him, he later wrote to his sister, "If I am a poet ... the air of Greece has made me one." Byron returned to England in the summer of 1811 having completed the opening cantos of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, a poem which tells the story of a world-weary young man looking for meaning in the world. When the first two cantos were published in March of 1812, the expensive first printing sold out in three days. Byron reportedly said, "I awoke one morning and found myself famous." His fame, however, was among the aristocratic intellectual class, at a time when only cultivated people read and discussed literature. The significant rise in a middle-class reading public, and with it the dominance of the novel, was still a few years away. At 24, Byron was invited to the homes of the most prestigious families and received hundreds of fan letters, many of them asking for the remaining cantos of his great poem—which eventually appeared in 1818. An outspoken politician in the House of Lords, Byron used his popularity for public good, speaking in favor of workers' rights and social reform. He also continued to publish romantic tales in verse. His personal life, however, remained rocky. He was married and divorced, his wife Anne Isabella Milbanke having accused him of everything from incest to sodomy. A number of love affairs also followed, including one with Claire Clairmont, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley's sister in law. By 1816, Byron was afraid for his life, warned that a crowd might lynch him if he were seen in public. Forced to flee England, Byron settled in Italy and began writing his masterpiece, Don Juan, an epic-satire novel-in-verse loosely based on a legendary hero. He also spent much of his time engaged in the Greek fight for independence and planned to join a battle against a Turkish-held fortress when he fell ill, becoming increasingly sick with persistent colds and fevers. When he died on April 19, 1824, at the age of 36, Don Juan was yet to be finished, though 17 cantos had been written. A memoir, which also hadn't been published, was burned by Byron's friends who were either afraid of being implicated in scandal or protective of his reputation. Today, Byron's Don Juan is considered one of the great long poems in English written since Milton's Paradise Lost. The Byronic hero, characterized by passion, talent, and rebellion, pervades Byron's work and greatly influenced the work of later Romantic poets. References Poets.org - www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/1562

W. B. Yeats

William Butler Yeats (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. A pillar of the Irish literary establishment, he helped to found the Abbey Theatre, and in his later years served two terms as a Senator of the Irish Free State. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn and others. Yeats was born in Sandymount, Ireland and educated there and in London. He spent childhood holidays in County Sligo and studied poetry from an early age when he became fascinated by Irish legends and the occult. These topics feature in the first phase of his work, which lasted roughly until the turn of the 20th century. His earliest volume of verse was published in 1889, and its slow-paced and lyrical poems display debts to Edmund Spenser, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and the poets of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. From 1900, his poetry grew more physical and realistic. He largely renounced the transcendental beliefs of his youth, though he remained preoccupied with physical and spiritual masks, as well as with cyclical theories of life. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Biography Early years William Butler Yeats was born at Sandymount in County Dublin, Ireland. His father, John Butler Yeats (1839–1922), was a descendant of Jervis Yeats, a Williamite soldier, linen merchant, and well-known painter who died in 1712. Benjamin Yeats, Jervis’s grandson and William’s great-great-grandfather, had in 1773 married Mary Butler of a landed family in County Kildare. Following their marriage, they kept the name Butler. Mary was of the Butler of Neigham (pronounced Nyam) Gowran family, descended from an illegitimate brother of the 8th Earl of Ormond.By his marriage, William’s father John Yeats was studying law but abandoned his studies to study art at Heatherley School of Fine Art in London. His mother, Susan Mary Pollexfen, came from a wealthy merchant family in Sligo, who owned a milling and shipping business. Soon after William’s birth, the family relocated to the Pollexfen home at Merville, Sligo to stay with her extended family, and the young poet came to think of the area as his childhood and spiritual home. Its landscape became, over time, both literally and symbolically, his “country of the heart”. So also did its location on the sea; John Yeats stated that “by marriage with a Pollexfen, we have given a tongue to the sea cliffs”. The Butler Yeats family were highly artistic; his brother Jack became an esteemed painter, while his sisters Elizabeth and Susan Mary—known to family and friends as Lollie and Lily—became involved in the Arts and Crafts movement.Yeats was raised a member of the Protestant Ascendancy, which was at the time undergoing a crisis of identity. While his family was broadly supportive of the changes Ireland was experiencing, the nationalist revival of the late 19th century directly disadvantaged his heritage and informed his outlook for the remainder of his life. In 1997, his biographer R. F. Foster observed that Napoleon’s dictum that to understand the man you have to know what was happening in the world when he was twenty “is manifestly true of W.B.Y.” Yeats’s childhood and young adulthood were shadowed by the power-shift away from the minority Protestant Ascendancy. The 1880s saw the rise of Charles Stewart Parnell and the home rule movement; the 1890s saw the momentum of nationalism, while the Catholics became prominent around the turn of the century. These developments had a profound effect on his poetry, and his subsequent explorations of Irish identity had a significant influence on the creation of his country’s biography.In 1867, the family moved to England to aid their father, John, to further his career as an artist. At first, the Yeats children were educated at home. Their mother entertained them with stories and Irish folktales. John provided an erratic education in geography and chemistry and took William on natural history explorations of the nearby Slough countryside. On 26 January 1877, the young poet entered the Godolphin school, which he attended for four years. He did not distinguish himself academically, and an early school report describes his performance as “only fair. Perhaps better in Latin than in any other subject. Very poor in spelling”. Though he had difficulty with mathematics and languages (possibly because he was tone deaf), he was fascinated by biology and zoology. In 1879 the family moved to Bedford Park taking a two-year lease on 8 Woodstock Road. For financial reasons, the family returned to Dublin toward the end of 1880, living at first in the suburbs of Harold’s Cross and later Howth. In October 1881, Yeats resumed his education at Dublin’s Erasmus Smith High School. His father’s studio was nearby and William spent a great deal of time there, where he met many of the city’s artists and writers. During this period he started writing poetry, and, in 1885, the Dublin University Review published Yeats’s first poems, as well as an essay entitled “The Poetry of Sir Samuel Ferguson”. Between 1884 and 1886, William attended the Metropolitan School of Art—now the National College of Art and Design—in Thomas Street. In March 1888 the family moved to 3 Blenheim Road in Bedford Park. The rent on the house was £50 a year.He began writing his first works when he was seventeen; these included a poem—heavily influenced by Percy Bysshe Shelley—that describes a magician who set up a throne in central Asia. Other pieces from this period include a draft of a play about a bishop, a monk, and a woman accused of paganism by local shepherds, as well as love-poems and narrative lyrics on German knights. The early works were both conventional and, according to the critic Charles Johnston, “utterly unIrish”, seeming to come out of a “vast murmurous gloom of dreams”. Although Yeats’s early works drew heavily on Shelley, Edmund Spenser, and on the diction and colouring of pre-Raphaelite verse, he soon turned to Irish mythology and folklore and the writings of William Blake. In later life, Yeats paid tribute to Blake by describing him as one of the “great artificers of God who uttered great truths to a little clan”. In 1891, Yeats published John Sherman and “Dhoya”, one a novella, the other a story. The influence of Oscar Wilde is evident in Yeats’s theory of aesthetics, especially in his stage plays, and runs like a motif through his early works. The theory of masks, developed by Wilde in his polemic The Decay of Lying can clearly be seen in Yeats’s play The Player Queen, while the more sensual characterisation of Salomé, in Wilde’s play of the same name, provides the template for the changes Yeats made in his later plays, especially in On Baile’s Strand (1904), Deirdre (1907), and his dance play The King of the Great Clock Tower (1934). Young poet The family returned to London in 1887. In March 1890 Yeats joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and with Ernest Rhys co-founded the Rhymers’ Club, a group of London-based poets who met regularly in a Fleet Street tavern to recite their verse. Yeats later sought to mythologize the collective, calling it the “Tragic Generation” in his autobiography, and published two anthologies of the Rhymers’ work, the first one in 1892 and the second one in 1894. He collaborated with Edwin Ellis on the first complete edition of William Blake’s works, in the process rediscovering a forgotten poem, “Vala, or, the Four Zoas”.Yeats had a lifelong interest in mysticism, spiritualism, occultism and astrology. He read extensively on the subjects throughout his life, became a member of the paranormal research organisation “The Ghost Club” (in 1911) and was especially influenced by the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. As early as 1892, he wrote: “If I had not made magic my constant study I could not have written a single word of my Blake book, nor would The Countess Kathleen ever have come to exist. The mystical life is the centre of all that I do and all that I think and all that I write.” His mystical interests—also inspired by a study of Hinduism, under the Theosophist Mohini Chatterjee, and the occult—formed much of the basis of his late poetry. Some critics disparaged this aspect of Yeats’s work.His first significant poem was “The Island of Statues”, a fantasy work that took Edmund Spenser and Shelley for its poetic models. The piece was serialized in the Dublin University Review. Yeats wished to include it in his first collection, but it was deemed too long, and in fact, was never republished in his lifetime. Quinx Books published the poem in complete form for the first time in 2014. His first solo publication was the pamphlet Mosada: A Dramatic Poem (1886), which comprised a print run of 100 copies paid for by his father. This was followed by the collection The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems (1889), which arranged a series of verse that dated as far back as the mid-1880s. The long title poem contains, in the words of his biographer R. F. Foster, "obscure Gaelic names, striking repetitions [and] an unremitting rhythm subtly varied as the poem proceeded through its three sections"; “The Wanderings of Oisin” is based on the lyrics of the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology and displays the influence of both Sir Samuel Ferguson and the Pre-Raphaelite poets. The poem took two years to complete and was one of the few works from this period that he did not disown in his maturity. Oisin introduces what was to become one of his most important themes: the appeal of the life of contemplation over the appeal of the life of action. Following the work, Yeats never again attempted another long poem. His other early poems, which are meditations on the themes of love or mystical and esoteric subjects, include Poems (1895), The Secret Rose (1897), and The Wind Among the Reeds (1899). The covers of these volumes were illustrated by Yeats’s friend Althea Gyles.During 1885, Yeats was involved in the formation of the Dublin Hermetic Order. The society held its first meeting on 16 June, with Yeats acting as its chairman. The same year, the Dublin Theosophical lodge was opened in conjunction with Brahmin Mohini Chatterjee, who travelled from the Theosophical Society in London to lecture. Yeats attended his first séance the following year. He later became heavily involved with the Theosophy and with hermeticism, particularly with the eclectic Rosicrucianism of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. During séances held from 1912, a spirit calling itself “Leo Africanus” apparently claimed it was Yeats’s Daemon or anti-self, inspiring some of the speculations in Per Amica Silentia Lunae. He was admitted into the Golden Dawn in March 1890 and took the magical motto Daemon est Deus inversus—translated as 'Devil is God inverted’. He was an active recruiter for the sect’s Isis-Urania Temple, and brought in his uncle George Pollexfen, Maud Gonne, and Florence Farr. Although he reserved a distaste for abstract and dogmatic religions founded around personality cults, he was attracted to the type of people he met at the Golden Dawn. He was involved in the Order’s power struggles, both with Farr and Macgregor Mathers, and was involved when Mathers sent Aleister Crowley to repossess Golden Dawn paraphernalia during the “Battle of Blythe Road”. After the Golden Dawn ceased and splintered into various offshoots, Yeats remained with the Stella Matutina until 1921. Maud Gonne In 1889, Yeats met Maud Gonne, a 23-year-old English heiress and ardent Irish Nationalist. She was eighteen months younger than Yeats and later claimed she met the poet as a “paint-stained art student.” Gonne admired “The Island of Statues” and sought out his acquaintance. Yeats began an obsessive infatuation, and she had a significant and lasting effect on his poetry and his life thereafter. In later years he admitted, "it seems to me that she [Gonne] brought into my life those days—for as yet I saw only what lay upon the surface—the middle of the tint, a sound as of a Burmese gong, an over-powering tumult that had yet many pleasant secondary notes." Yeats’s love was unrequited, in part due to his reluctance to participate in her nationalist activism.In 1891 he visited Gonne in Ireland and proposed marriage, but was rejected. He later admitted that from that point “the troubling of my life began”. Yeats proposed to Gonne three more times: in 1899, 1900 and 1901. She refused each proposal, and in 1903, to his dismay, married the Irish nationalist Major John MacBride. His only other love affair during this period was with Olivia Shakespear, whom he first met in 1894, and parted from in 1897. Yeats derided MacBride in letters and in poetry. He was horrified by Gonne’s marriage, at losing his muse to another man; in addition, her conversion to Catholicism before marriage offended him; Yeats was Protestant/agnostic. He worried his muse would come under the influence of the priests and do their bidding.Gonne’s marriage to MacBride was a disaster. This pleased Yeats, as Gonne began to visit him in London. After the birth of her son, Seán MacBride, in 1904, Gonne and MacBride agreed to end the marriage, although they were unable to agree on the child’s welfare. Despite the use of intermediaries, a divorce case ensued in Paris in 1905. Gonne made a series of allegations against her husband with Yeats as her main 'second’, though he did not attend court or travel to France. A divorce was not granted, for the only accusation that held up in court was that MacBride had been drunk once during the marriage. A separation was granted, with Gonne having custody of the baby and MacBride having visiting rights. Yeats’s friendship with Gonne ended, yet, in Paris in 1908, they finally consummated their relationship. “The long years of fidelity rewarded at last” was how another of his lovers described the event. Yeats was less sentimental and later remarked that “the tragedy of sexual intercourse is the perpetual virginity of the soul.” The relationship did not develop into a new phase after their night together, and soon afterwards Gonne wrote to the poet indicating that despite the physical consummation, they could not continue as they had been: “I have prayed so hard to have all earthly desire taken from my love for you and dearest, loving you as I do, I have prayed and I am praying still that the bodily desire for me may be taken from you too.” By January 1909, Gonne was sending Yeats letters praising the advantage given to artists who abstain from sex. Nearly twenty years later, Yeats recalled the night with Gonne in his poem “A Man Young and Old”: In 1896, Yeats was introduced to Lady Gregory by their mutual friend Edward Martyn. Gregory encouraged Yeats’s nationalism and convinced him to continue focusing on writing drama. Although he was influenced by French Symbolism, Yeats concentrated on an identifiably Irish content and this inclination was reinforced by his involvement with a new generation of younger and emerging Irish authors. Together with Lady Gregory, Martyn, and other writers including J. M. Synge, Seán O’Casey, and Padraic Colum, Yeats was one of those responsible for the establishment of the “Irish Literary Revival” movement. Apart from these creative writers, much of the impetus for the Revival came from the work of scholarly translators who were aiding in the discovery of both the ancient sagas and Ossianic poetry and the more recent folk song tradition in Irish. One of the most significant of these was Douglas Hyde, later the first President of Ireland, whose Love Songs of Connacht was widely admired. Abbey Theatre In 1899, Yeats, Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn and George Moore began the Irish Literary Theatre to present Irish plays. The ideals of the Abbey were derived from the avant-garde French theatre, which sought to express the "ascendancy of the playwright rather than the actor-manager à l’anglais." The group’s manifesto, which Yeats wrote, declared, "We hope to find in Ireland an uncorrupted & imaginative audience trained to listen by its passion for oratory... & that freedom to experiment which is not found in the theatres of England, & without which no new movement in art or literature can succeed."The collective survived for about two years but was not successful. Working with two Irish brothers with theatrical experience, William and Frank Fay, Yeats’s unpaid yet independently wealthy secretary Annie Horniman, and the leading West End actress Florence Farr, the group established the Irish National Theatre Society. Along with Synge, they acquired property in Dublin and on 27 December 1904 opened the Abbey Theatre. Yeats’s play Cathleen ni Houlihan and Lady Gregory’s Spreading the News were featured on the opening night. Yeats remained involved with the Abbey until his death, both as a member of the board and a prolific playwright. In 1902, he helped set up the Dun Emer Press to publish work by writers associated with the Revival. This became the Cuala Press in 1904, and inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement, sought to “find work for Irish hands in the making of beautiful things.” From then until its closure in 1946, the press—which was run by the poet’s sisters—produced over 70 titles; 48 of them books by Yeats himself. Yeats met the American poet Ezra Pound in 1909. Pound had travelled to London at least partly to meet the older man, whom he considered “the only poet worthy of serious study.” From that year until 1916, the two men wintered in the Stone Cottage at Ashdown Forest, with Pound nominally acting as Yeats’s secretary. The relationship got off to a rocky start when Pound arranged for the publication in the magazine Poetry of some of Yeats’s verse with Pound’s own unauthorised alterations. These changes reflected Pound’s distaste for Victorian prosody. A more indirect influence was the scholarship on Japanese Noh plays that Pound had obtained from Ernest Fenollosa’s widow, which provided Yeats with a model for the aristocratic drama he intended to write. The first of his plays modelled on Noh was At the Hawk’s Well, the first draft of which he dictated to Pound in January 1916.The emergence of a nationalist revolutionary movement from the ranks of the mostly Roman Catholic lower-middle and working class made Yeats reassess some of his attitudes. In the refrain of "Easter, 1916" ("All changed, changed utterly / A terrible beauty is born"), Yeats faces his own failure to recognise the merits of the leaders of the Easter Rising, due to his attitude towards their ordinary backgrounds and lives.Yeats was close to Lady Gregory and her home place of Coole Park, Co, Galway. He would often visit and stay there as it was a central meeting place for people who supported the resurgence of Irish literature and cultural traditions. His poem, “The Wild Swans at Coole” was written there, between 1916 and 1917. He wrote prefaces for two books of Irish mythological tales, compiled by Augusta, Lady Gregory: Cuchulain of Muirthemne (1902), and Gods and Fighting Men (1904). In the preface of the latter, he wrote: “One must not expect in these stories the epic lineaments, the many incidents, woven into one great event of, let us say the War for the Brown Bull of Cuailgne or that of the last gathering at Muirthemne.” Politics Yeats was an Irish Nationalist, who sought a kind of traditional lifestyle articulated through poems such as 'The Fisherman’. However, as his life progressed, he sheltered much of his revolutionary spirit and distanced himself from the intense political landscape until 1922, when he was appointed Senator for the Irish Free State.In the earlier part of his life, Yeats was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Due to the escalating tension of the political scene, Yeats distanced himself from the core political activism in the midst of the Easter Rising, even holding back his poetry inspired by the events until 1920. In the 1930s Yeats was fascinated with the authoritarian, anti-democratic, nationalist movements of Europe, and he composed several marching songs for the right-wing Blueshirts, although they were never used. He was a fierce opponent of individualism and political liberalism and saw the fascist movements as a triumph of public order and the needs of the national collective over petty individualism. On the other hand, he was also an elitist who abhorred the idea of mob-rule, and saw democracy as a threat to good governance and public order. After the Blueshirt movement began to falter in Ireland, he distanced himself somewhat from his previous views, but maintained a preference for authoritarian and nationalist leadership. D. P. Moran called him a minor poet and “crypto-Protestant conman.” Marriage to Georgie Hyde Lees By 1916, Yeats was 51 years old and determined to marry and produce an heir. His rival John MacBride had been executed for his role in the 1916 Easter Rising, so Yeats hoped that his widow might remarry. His final proposal to Maud Gonne took place in mid-1916. Gonne’s history of revolutionary political activism, as well as a series of personal catastrophes in the previous few years of her life—including chloroform addiction and her troubled marriage to MacBride—made her a potentially unsuitable wife; biographer R. F. Foster has observed that Yeats’s last offer was motivated more by a sense of duty than by a genuine desire to marry her. Yeats proposed in an indifferent manner, with conditions attached, and he both expected and hoped she would turn him down. According to Foster “when he duly asked Maud to marry him and was duly refused, his thoughts shifted with surprising speed to her daughter.” Iseult Gonne was Maud’s second child with Lucien Millevoye, and at the time was twenty-one years old. She had lived a sad life to this point; conceived as an attempt to reincarnate her short-lived brother, for the first few years of her life she was presented as her mother’s adopted niece. When Maud told her that she was going to marry, Iseult cried and told her mother that she hated MacBride. When Gonne took action to divorce MacBride in 1905, the court heard allegations that he had sexually assaulted Iseult, then eleven. At fifteen, she proposed to Yeats. In 1917, he proposed to Iseult but was rejected. That September, Yeats proposed to 25-year-old Georgie Hyde-Lees (1892–1968), known as George, whom he had met through Olivia Shakespear. Despite warnings from her friends—"George... you can’t. He must be dead"—Hyde-Lees accepted, and the two were married on 20 October. Their marriage was a success, in spite of the age difference, and in spite of Yeats’s feelings of remorse and regret during their honeymoon. The couple went on to have two children, Anne and Michael. Although in later years he had romantic relationships with other women, Georgie herself wrote to her husband “When you are dead, people will talk about your love affairs, but I shall say nothing, for I will remember how proud you were.”During the first years of marriage, they experimented with automatic writing; she contacted a variety of spirits and guides they called “Instructors” while in a trance. The spirits communicated a complex and esoteric system of philosophy and history, which the couple developed into an exposition using geometrical shapes: phases, cones, and gyres. Yeats devoted much time to preparing this material for publication as A Vision (1925). In 1924, he wrote to his publisher T. Werner Laurie, admitting: “I dare say I delude myself in thinking this book my book of books”. Nobel Prize In December 1923, Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, “for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation”. He was aware of the symbolic value of an Irish winner so soon after Ireland had gained independence, and sought to highlight the fact at each available opportunity. His reply to many of the letters of congratulations sent to him contained the words: “I consider that this honour has come to me less as an individual than as a representative of Irish literature, it is part of Europe’s welcome to the Free State.”Yeats used the occasion of his acceptance lecture at the Royal Academy of Sweden to present himself as a standard-bearer of Irish nationalism and Irish cultural independence. As he remarked, “The theatres of Dublin were empty buildings hired by the English travelling companies, and we wanted Irish plays and Irish players. When we thought of these plays we thought of everything that was romantic and poetical because the nationalism we had called up—the nationalism every generation had called up in moments of discouragement—was romantic and poetical.” The prize led to a significant increase in the sales of his books, as his publishers Macmillan sought to capitalise on the publicity. For the first time he had money, and he was able to repay not only his own debts but those of his father. Old age and death By early 1925, Yeats’s health had stabilised, and he had completed most of the writing for A Vision (dated 1925, it actually appeared in January 1926, when he almost immediately started rewriting it for a second version). He had been appointed to the first Irish Senate in 1922, and was re-appointed for a second term in 1925. Early in his tenure, a debate on divorce arose, and Yeats viewed the issue as primarily a confrontation between the emerging Roman Catholic ethos and the Protestant minority. When the Roman Catholic Church weighed in with a blanket refusal to consider their anti position, The Irish Times countered that a measure to outlaw divorce would alienate Protestants and “crystallise” the partition of Ireland. In response, Yeats delivered a series of speeches that attacked the “quixotically impressive” ambitions of the government and clergy, likening their campaign tactics to those of “medieval Spain.” “Marriage is not to us a Sacrament, but, upon the other hand, the love of a man and woman, and the inseparable physical desire, are sacred. This conviction has come to us through ancient philosophy and modern literature, and it seems to us a most sacrilegious thing to persuade two people who hate each other... to live together, and it is to us no remedy to permit them to part if neither can re-marry.” The resulting debate has been described as one of Yeats’s “supreme public moments”, and began his ideological move away from pluralism towards religious confrontation. His language became more forceful; the Jesuit Father Peter Finlay was described by Yeats as a man of “monstrous discourtesy”, and he lamented that “It is one of the glories of the Church in which I was born that we have put our Bishops in their place in discussions requiring legislation”. During his time in the Senate, Yeats further warned his colleagues: “If you show that this country, southern Ireland, is going to be governed by Roman Catholic ideas and by Catholic ideas alone, you will never get the North... You will put a wedge in the midst of this nation”. He memorably said of his fellow Irish Protestants, “we are no petty people”. In 1924, he chaired a coinage committee charged with selecting a set of designs for the first currency of the Irish Free State. Aware of the symbolic power latent in the imagery of a young state’s currency, he sought a form that was “elegant, racy of the soil, and utterly unpolitical”. When the house finally decided on the artwork of Percy Metcalfe, Yeats was pleased, though he regretted that compromise had led to “lost muscular tension” in the finally depicted images. He retired from the Senate in 1928 because of ill health. Towards the end of his life—and especially after the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and Great Depression, which led some to question whether democracy could cope with deep economic difficulty—Yeats seems to have returned to his aristocratic sympathies. During the aftermath of the First World War, he became sceptical about the efficacy of democratic government, and anticipated political reconstruction in Europe through totalitarian rule. His later association with Pound drew him towards Benito Mussolini, for whom he expressed admiration on a number of occasions. He wrote three “marching songs”—never used—for the Irish General Eoin O’Duffy’s Blueshirts. At the age of 69 he was 'rejuvenated’ by the Steinach operation which was performed on 6 April 1934 by Norman Haire. For the last five years of his life Yeats found a new vigour evident from both his poetry and his intimate relations with younger women. During this time, Yeats was involved in a number of romantic affairs with, among others, the poet and actress Margot Ruddock, and the novelist, journalist and sexual radical Ethel Mannin. As in his earlier life, Yeats found erotic adventure conducive to his creative energy, and, despite age and ill-health, he remained a prolific writer. In a letter of 1935, Yeats noted: “I find my present weakness made worse by the strange second puberty the operation has given me, the ferment that has come upon my imagination. If I write poetry it will be unlike anything I have done”. In 1936, he undertook editorship of the Oxford Book of Modern Verse, 1892–1935.He died at the Hôtel Idéal Séjour, in Menton, France, on 28 January 1939, aged 73. He was buried after a discreet and private funeral at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. Attempts had been made at Roquebrune to dissuade the family from proceeding with the removal of the remains to Ireland due to the uncertainty of their identity. His body had earlier been exhumed and transferred to the ossuary. Yeats and George had often discussed his death, and his express wish was that he be buried quickly in France with a minimum of fuss. According to George, "His actual words were 'If I die, bury me up there [at Roquebrune] and then in a year’s time when the newspapers have forgotten me, dig me up and plant me in Sligo’." In September 1948, Yeats’s body was moved to the churchyard of St Columba’s Church, Drumcliff, County Sligo, on the Irish Naval Service corvette LÉ Macha. The person in charge of this operation for the Irish Government was Seán MacBride, son of Maud Gonne MacBride, and then Minister of External Affairs. His epitaph is taken from the last lines of “Under Ben Bulben”, one of his final poems: French ambassador Stanislas Ostroróg was involved in returning the remains of the Irish poet from France to Ireland in 1948; in a letter to the European director of the Foreign Ministry in Paris “Ostrorog tells how Yeats’s son Michael sought official help in locating the poet’s remains. Neither Michael Yeats nor Sean MacBride, the Irish foreign minister who organised the ceremony, wanted to know the details of how the remains were collected, Ostrorog notes. He repeatedly urges caution and discretion and says the Irish ambassador in Paris should not be informed.” Yeats’ body was exhumed in 1946 and the remains were moved to on ossuary and mixed with other remains. The French Foreign Ministry authorized Ostrorog to secretly cover the cost of repatriation from his slush fund. Authorities were worried about the fact that the much-loved poet’s remains were thrown into a communal grave, causing embarrassment for both Ireland and France. “Mr Rebouillat, (a) forensic doctor in Roquebrune would be able to reconstitute a skeleton presenting all the characteristics of the deceased.” per a letter from Ostroróg to his superiors. Style Yeats is considered one of the key twentieth century English language poets. He was a Symbolist poet, using allusive imagery and symbolic structures throughout his career. He chose words and assembled them so that, in addition to a particular meaning, they suggest abstract thoughts that may seem more significant and resonant. His use of symbols is usually something physical that is both itself and a suggestion of other, perhaps immaterial, timeless qualities.Unlike other modernists who experimented with free verse, Yeats was a master of the traditional forms. The impact of modernism on his work can be seen in the increasing abandonment of the more conventionally poetic diction of his early work in favour of the more austere language and more direct approach to his themes that increasingly characterises the poetry and plays of his middle period, comprising the volumes In the Seven Woods, Responsibilities and The Green Helmet. His later poetry and plays are written in a more personal vein, and the works written in the last twenty years of his life include mention of his son and daughter, as well as meditations on the experience of growing old. In his poem, “The Circus Animals’ Desertion”, he describes the inspiration for these late works: During 1929, he stayed at Thoor Ballylee near Gort in County Galway (where Yeats had his summer home since 1919) for the last time. Much of the remainder of his life was lived outside Ireland, although he did lease Riversdale house in the Dublin suburb of Rathfarnham in 1932. He wrote prolifically through his final years, and published poetry, plays, and prose. In 1938, he attended the Abbey for the final time to see the premiere of his play Purgatory. His Autobiographies of William Butler Yeats was published that same year. In 1913, Yeats wrote the preface for the English translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali (Song Offering) for which Tagore received Nobel Prize in literature. While Yeats’s early poetry drew heavily on Irish myth and folklore, his later work was engaged with more contemporary issues, and his style underwent a dramatic transformation. His work can be divided into three general periods. The early poems are lushly pre-Raphaelite in tone, self-consciously ornate, and, at times, according to unsympathetic critics, stilted. Yeats began by writing epic poems such as The Isle of Statues and The Wanderings of Oisin. His other early poems are lyrics on the themes of love or mystical and esoteric subjects. Yeats’s middle period saw him abandon the pre-Raphaelite character of his early work and attempt to turn himself into a Landor-style social ironist.Critics who admire his middle work might characterize it as supple and muscular in its rhythms and sometimes harshly modernist, while others find these poems barren and weak in imaginative power. Yeats’s later work found new imaginative inspiration in the mystical system he began to work out for himself under the influence of spiritualism. In many ways, this poetry is a return to the vision of his earlier work. The opposition between the worldly-minded man of the sword and the spiritually minded man of God, the theme of The Wanderings of Oisin, is reproduced in A Dialogue Between Self and Soul.Some critics claim that Yeats spanned the transition from the nineteenth century into twentieth-century modernism in poetry much as Pablo Picasso did in painting while others question whether late Yeats has much in common with modernists of the Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot variety.Modernists read the well-known poem “The Second Coming” as a dirge for the decline of European civilisation, but it also expresses Yeats’s apocalyptic mystical theories and is shaped by the 1890s. His most important collections of poetry started with The Green Helmet (1910) and Responsibilities (1914). In imagery, Yeats’s poetry became sparer and more powerful as he grew older. The Tower (1928), The Winding Stair (1933), and New Poems (1938) contained some of the most potent images in twentieth-century poetry.Yeats’s mystical inclinations, informed by Hinduism, theosophical beliefs and the occult, provided much of the basis of his late poetry, which some critics have judged as lacking in intellectual credibility. The metaphysics of Yeats’s late works must be read in relation to his system of esoteric fundamentals in A Vision (1925). Legacy Yeats is commemorated in Sligo town by a statue, created in 1989 by sculptor Rowan Gillespie. It was erected outside the Ulster Bank, at the corner of Stephen Street and Markievicz Road, on the 50th anniversary of the poet’s death. Yeats had remarked, on receiving his Nobel Prize that the Royal Palace in Stockholm “resembled the Ulster Bank in Sligo”. Across the river is the Yeats Memorial Building, home to the Sligo Yeats Society. References Wikipedia—https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._B._Yeats

R. S. Thomas

Ronald Stuart Thomas (29 March 1913 – 25 September 2000), published as R. S. Thomas, was a Welsh poet and Anglican priest who was noted for his nationalism, spirituality and deep dislike of the anglicisation of Wales. In 1955, John Betjeman, in his introduction to the first collection of Thomas’s poetry to be produced by a major publisher, Song at the Year's Turning, predicted that Thomas would be remembered long after Betjeman himself was forgotten. M. Wynn Thomas said: "He was the Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn of Wales because he was such a troubler of the Welsh conscience. He was one of the major English language and European poets of the 20th century." R. S. Thomas was born in Cardiff, the only child of Thomas Hubert and Margaret (née Davis). The family moved to Holyhead in 1918 because of his father's work in the merchant navy. He was awarded a bursary in 1932 to study at Bangor University, where he read Classics. In 1936, having completed his theological training at St. Michael's College, Llandaff, he was ordained as a priest in the Church in Wales. From 1936 to 1940 he was the curate of Chirk, Denbighshire, where he met his future wife, Mildred (Elsi) Eldridge, an English artist. He subsequently became curate at Tallarn Green, Flintshire. Thomas and Mildred were married in 1940 and remained together until her death in 1991. Their son, Gwydion, was born 29 August 1945. The Thomas family lived on a tiny income and lacked the comforts of modern life, largely by the Thomas's choice. One of the few household amenities the family ever owned, a vacuum cleaner, was rejected because Thomas decided it was too noisy. For twelve years, from 1942 to 1954, Thomas was rector at Manafon, near Welshpool in rural Montgomeryshire. It was during his time at Manafon that he first began to study Welsh and that he published his first three volumes of poetry, The Stones of the Field, An Acre of Land and The Minister. Thomas' poetry achieved a breakthrough with the publication of his fourth book Song at the Year's Turning, in effect a collected edition of his first three volumes, which was critically very well received and opened with Betjeman's famous introduction. His position was also helped by winning the Royal Society of Literature's Heinemann Award. Thomas learnt the Welsh language at age 30, too late in life, he said, to be able to write poetry in it. The 1960s saw him working in a predominantly Welsh speaking community and he later wrote two prose works in Welsh, Neb (English: Nobody), an ironic and revealing autobiography written in the third person, and Blwyddyn yn Llŷn (English: A Year in Llŷn). In 1964 he won the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. From 1967 to 1978 he was vicar at St Hywyn's Church (built 1137) in Aberdaron at the western tip of the Llŷn Peninsula. Thomas retired from church ministry in 1978 and he and his wife relocated to Y Rhiw, in "a tiny, unheated cottage in one of the most beautiful parts of Wales, where, however, the temperature sometimes dipped below freezing", according to Theodore Dalrymple. Free from the constraints of the church he was able to become more political and active in the campaigns that were important to him. He became a fierce advocate of Welsh nationalism, although he never supported Plaid Cymru because he believed they did not go far enough in their opposition to England. In 1996 Thomas was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature (the winner that year was Seamus Heaney). Thomas died on 25 September 2000, aged 87, at his home at Pentrefelin near Criccieth. He had been ill with heart trouble and had been treated at Gwynnedd hospital until two weeks before he died. After his death an event celebrating his life and poetry was held in Westminster Abbey with readings from Heaney, Andrew Motion, Gillian Clarke and John Burnside. Thomas's ashes are buried close to the door of St. John's Church, Porthmadog, Gwynedd. Beliefs Thomas believed in what he called "the true Wales of my imagination", a Welsh-speaking, aboriginal community that was in tune with the natural world. He viewed western (specifically English) materialism and greed, represented in the poetry by his mythical "Machine", as the destroyers of community. He could tolerate neither the English who bought up Wales and, in his view, stripped it of its wild and essential nature, nor the Welsh whom he saw as all too eager to kowtow to English money and influence. This may help explain why Thomas was an ardent supporter of CND and described himself as a pacifist but also why he supported the Meibion Glyndŵr fire-bombings of English-owned holiday cottages in rural Wales. On this subject he said in 1998, "what is one death against the death of the whole Welsh nation?" He was also active in wildlife preservation and worked with the RSPB and Welsh volunteer organisations for the preservation of the Red Kite. He resigned his RSPB membership over their plans to introduce non-native kites to Wales. Thomas's son, Gwydion, a resident of Thailand, recalls his father's sermons, in which he would "drone on" to absurd lengths about the evil of refrigerators, washing machines, televisions and other modern devices. Thomas preached that they were all part of the temptation of scrambling after gadgets rather than attending to more spiritual needs. "It was the Machine, you see", Gwydion Thomas explained to a biographer. "This to a congregation that didn’t have any of these things and were longing for them." Although he may have taken some ideas to extreme lengths, Theodore Dalrymple wrote, Thomas "was raising a deep and unanswered question: What is life for? Is it simply to consume more and more, and divert ourselves with ever more elaborate entertainments and gadgetry? What will this do to our souls?" Although he was a cleric, he was not always charitable and was known for being awkward and taciturn. Some critics have interpreted photographs of him as indicating he was "formidable, bad-tempered, and apparently humorless." Works Almost all of Thomas's work concerns the Welsh landscape and the Welsh people, themes with both political and spiritual subtext. His views on the position of the Welsh people, as a conquered people are never far below the surface. As a cleric, his religious views are also present in his works. His earlier works focus on the personal stories of his parishioners, the farm labourers and working men and their wives, challenging the cosy view of the traditional pastoral poem with harsh and vivid descriptions of rural lives. The beauty of the landscape, although ever-present, is never suggested as a compensation for the low pay or monotonous conditions of farm work. This direct view of "country life" comes as a challenge to many English writers writing on similar subjects and challenging the more pastoral works of such as contemporary poets as Dylan Thomas. Thomas's later works were of a more metaphysical nature, more experimental in their style and focusing more overtly on his spirituality. Laboratories of the Spirit (1975) gives, in its title, a hint at this development and also reveals Thomas's increasing experiments with scientific metaphor. He described this shift as an investigation into the "adult geometry of the mind".} Fearing that poetry was becoming a dying art, inaccessible to those who most needed it, "he attempted to make spiritually minded poems relevant within, and relevant to, a science-minded, post-industrial world", to represent that world both in form and in content even as he rejected its machinations. Despite his nationalism Thomas could be hard on his fellow countrymen. Often his works read as more of a criticism of Welshness than a celebration. He himself said there is a "lack of love for human beings" in his poetry. Other critics have not been so harsh. Al Alvarez said: "He was wonderful, very pure, very bitter but the bitterness was beautifully and very sparely rendered. He was completely authoritative, a very, very fine poet, completely off on his own, out of the loop but a real individual. It's not about being a major or minor poet. It's about getting a work absolutely right by your own standards and he did that wonderfully well." Thomas's final works commonly sold 20,000 copies in Britain alone. Books * The Stones of the Field (1946) * An Acre of Land (1952) * The Minister (1953) * Song at the Year's Turning (1955) * Poetry for Supper (1958) * Tares, [Corn-weed] (1961) * The Bread of Truth (1963) * Words and the Poet (1964, lecture) * Pietà (1966) * Not That He Brought Flowers (1968) * H'm (1972) * What is a Welshman? (1974) * Laboratories of the Spirit (1975) * Abercuawg (1976, lecture) * The Way of It (1977) * Frequencies (1978) * Between Here and Now (1981) * Ingrowing Thoughts (1985) * Neb (1985) in Welsh, autobiography, written in the third person * Experimenting with an Amen (1986) * Welsh Airs (1987) * The Echoes Return Slow (1988) * Counterpoint (1990) * Blwyddyn yn Llŷn (1990) in Welsh * Pe Medrwn Yr Iaith : ac ysgrifau eraill ed. Tony Brown & Bedwyr L. Jones, essays in Welsh (1990) * Mass for Hard Times (1992) * No Truce with the Furies (1995) * Autobiographies (1997, collection of prose writings) * Residues (2002, posthumously) References Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._S._Thomas

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“Without poets, without artists, men would soon weary of nature's monotony.” —Guillaume Apollinaire

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“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” —William Wordsworth

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